Historical Archives

Call Us Today!
(706) 724-7982 or
Request a Quote:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Why is DPI So Important in Document Scanning?

I walked past Brian’s cubicle and saw his feet up on the desk and heard a low, slow humming sound that definitely wasn’t Brian because he couldn’t carry a tune in a backpack. I saw a strange light coming from his cubicle, too, so I backed up to see what was going on. When I asked him what he was doing, he said, “scanning.” I asked him why the light beam on the printer was moving slower than a sloth with leg irons. Frankly, I wondered the same thing about Brian most days, but that wasn’t the issue at hand. He told me, “I crank up the scanner DPI to the highest resolution possible to get the best quality available. Why would you want less than the best? Go big, or go home, right?” If only going home was only an option at this moment. I pushed his feet off the desk and said, “You know, that sounds logical, but unfortunately, it isn’t. Let me explain DPI and document scanning.”

Dots Per Inch

It was obvious that Brian knew that DPI, or dots per inch, was a measurement of the resolution of a digital scan, and that the higher the dot density, the higher the resolution of the scan, or he wouldn’t have been chilling with his feet up while scanning his documents at one page per hour. And since we’re paying him by the hour, I needed him to know that each project is unique and requires him to consider some variables when selecting the right DPI.


There are times when low-resolution images, which are 150 dpi or less, are all you need. Low-resolution is perfect for use on the web and can even work for text documents shared between colleagues. The most common resolution is medium, or 250-300 dpi. High resolution, which was Brian’s default for everything, is commonly 600 dpi or higher and is useful when you require versatility.


Selecting the desired DPI will change with the level of detail required. Photographs will need a greater DPI than text-heavy documents because you will want to ensure you capture and save the most detail possible. No one likes a grainy or blurry photo.

In contrast, scanning a high-detail document, such as one with a diagram or small font sizes, at a lower DPI will limit its use. Color documents and photographs will also benefit from a higher DPI, as will documents where clarity with text is important but detail is not. The purpose of your scan will also determine what level of detail you need. Is it going to be posted on the web or printed in a publication?

I quickly realized that Brian’s lack of care about the purpose of the scan could be creating cumbersome and costly files. How much space were these documents taking up in the cloud? We pay for every megabyte.

File Size

When Brian scanned at the highest DPI, he was getting a high-resolution and detailed scan which also resulted in an oversized file. If a high DPI isn’t necessary, a large file will:

  • Take an excessive amount of time to scan each file. If you consider scans that take 2-20 minutes each, you can eat up a lot of your work time scanning any quantity of documents, whereas documents scanned at a lower DPI can take just seconds.
  • Use up more storage space than necessary, which could be costly if there are hundreds of large files.
  • Make sending files more difficult if applications won’t support large files. Many applications have a file size limit.

I suggested to Brian he spend his valuable time finding a reputable business to scan our documents and he do what he’s paid to do. After some research, he discovered that Records Management Center (RMC) in Augusta, Georgia could accomplish our scanning projects in less time and offer excellent quality, while ensuring our unique documents are scanned at the right DPI. RMC serves Augusta, Evans, Thomson, and Martinez, GA, Aiken, SC, and the Central Savannah River Areas, so they were the perfect choice. Brian pulled up his chair, picked up the phone, and called them.

At Records Management Center, our document scanning specialists are always ready to have a conversation about hassle-free scanning services and how it would benefit your company’s needs. Simply call us at 706-724-7982 or complete the form on this page. We look forward to working with you!